Little Sisters of the Poor

Little Sisters of the Poor

This week, the Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of Catholic nuns who care for the poorest among us with a large presence in Denver, will get their day in court – the U.S. Supreme Court.  This will be the final step in a drawn out battle against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate that employers must furnish health insurance that covers contraception.

At issue here is religious freedom.  The Little Sisters’ Christian faith compels them to be chaste, while President Obama’s so-called Affordable Care Act and his Department of Health and Human Services compels the group to provide health insurance plans to its employees that cover contraception.

The Little Sisters of the Poor were founded in the 1830s France by Jeanne Jugan, and for its entire history has been committed to caring for the poor and infirm elderly. They view this as their religious mission.

The Little Sisters, Catholic University of America, and other religious organizations have a simple request: carve out a tiny exemption for them to decline to pay for insurance services that provide for contraceptives. A pretty simple proposal right?  There are currently mechanisms in place that allow men to be exempt from the draft because of their religious convictions. People can opt out of compulsory vaccinations because of their religious beliefs.  Laws have been passed that allow for an exemption allowing people to wear religious hats in court rooms.

The Little Sisters’ proposal is nothing new or radical, but simply a commonsense request to keep the government from infringing on their First Amendment rights.